2019

Research Seminar Series (07/2019)

“Reconfiguring the United Kingdom’s transnational education geographies after Brexit: Branch campuses as flexible technology”

Speaker: Dr Jana M. Kleibert

Date:      Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    Meeting room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No. 41)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Dr Koh Sin Yee
(Academic matters)

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Speakers' Profile

Dr. Jana Kleibert is an economic geographer interested in understanding the changing geographies of globalisation. She heads the "Constructing Transnational Spaces of Higher Education" (TRANSEDU) research group at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) and at the Humboldt University of Berlin, which investigates the material and discursive construction of European offshore campuses around the world. She received her PhD in economic geography (University of Amsterdam) for a dissertation exploring the formation of global production networks in services through a study of services offshoring to the Philippines. Previously, she has held visiting appointments at the National University of Singapore, the University of Manchester, the Goethe University of Frankfurt/Main and the University of British Columbia.

Abstract

Corporatisation, commercialisation, marketisation and globalisation have been important facets of United Kingdom’s (UKs) higher educations’ transformation over the past decade, making higher education an important economic (export) sector that depends on mobilities of capital, labour and students. The talk focuses on the construction of international branch campuses, as a critical case study through which to understand socio-spatial transformations and contribute to “Brexit Geographies”. Based on qualitative interviews with key decision-makers on transnational higher education in the UK, I analyse the spatial strategies universities employ in situations of crisis and uncertainty over future migration policies and access to research funding. These encompass (a) dis-embedding from domestic regulations through opening international branch campuses, (b) rescaling several activities to branch campuses in the “global city” of London to attract international students, and (c) opening of branch campuses in European Union (EU) countries to become re-embedded in the EU higher education and research space. By linking the contemporary reconfigurations of the economic geographies of UK education to earlier phases of internationalisation, I show how international branch campuses constitute a remarkably flexible technology that enables spatial and territorial fixes at different scales.

Research Seminar Series (10/2019)

“Love in a time of Extinction: Precarity and Postcolonial Studies in the Anthropocene”

Speaker: Associate Professor Johan Höglund

Date:      Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Time:       10.00am

Venue:    Meeting room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No. 41)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Dr. Ana Grgic
(Academic matters)

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Speakers' Profile

Dr Johan Höglund is Professor in English at the Department of Languages, and Director of the Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. He holds degrees from Brown University and Uppsala University. His research focuses on the relationship between popular culture, the Anthropocene and Empire as it manifests during different eras and in different media. He is the author of The American Imperial Gothic: Popular Culture, Empire, Violence (Ashgate, 2014) and editor of B-Movie Gothic: International Perspectives (with Justin Edwards, EUP 2018), Animal Horror Cinema: Genre, History and Criticism (with Katarina Gregersdotter and Nicklas Hållén, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), and Transnational and Postcolonial Vampires (with Tabish Khair, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). He has published extensively in journals such as Journal of Popular Culture, Game Studies, English Literature in Transition, Continuum, and The European Journal of American Studies.

Abstract

There is increasing agreement within geology, oceanology, biology and other hard sciences that we have entered the Anthropocene (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000), although other concepts, such as Capitalocene (Moore 2015) and Chthulucene (Haraway 2016) have also been proposed. This era is already lodged in the sediments of the Earth, in the form of plastics, ash, metals, pesticides, or as fallout from thermonuclear testing in the late twentieth century (Waters et al. 2016). In the present moment, and even more so in the predictable future, the Anthropocene produces various states of precarity; in the global south where what Rob Nixon (2011) has termed “slow violence” impacts the lives of the poor; among thousands of species that, as Elisabeth Kolbert (2014) shows, are going extinct; and also inside all human bodies when chemicals accumulate in our fat tissue and when our microbiomes – our vital gut bacteria – are depleted by poor diets and an overuse of antibiotics.

From the perspective of the hard sciences, the Anthropocene is a human-induced era generated by the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and by various pollutants and chemicals into the environment. However, this process, and humanity’s current and glaring inability to address the conflict, must also be understood as a cultural or ideological problem. As several humanities and social sciences scholars have observed (see e.g. Lorimer 2015, Tsing 2015, Chakrabarty 2016), the Anthropocene has been enabled by the anthropocentric notion that humankind is somehow apart from nature, and that nature exists to be governed by humanity. The relationship between modern humanity and the planet has thus been one of (colonial) ownership, not of friendship or love, or even of collaborative co-habitation. This prompts the questions: How can humanity, as Eben Kirksey (2018) has asked, learn to extend friendship and love across the barriers constituted by that geography, nationality and species?

With this question in mind, this talk explores new scholarly writing, art, literature and film that attempt to reimagine relations between human beings, and between human and non-human species. The talk thus surveys stories that recognize that humans are inevitably inside the planetary ecosystem, and also inhabited by a range of species vital to their survival. In this way, the talk investigates how visual and textual narratives imagine (interspecies) love and friendship as possible even in an age of conflict and extinction.

Research Seminar Series (09/2019)

“Is Asia still a Unique Case for Theory-building in Social Sciences?”

Speaker: Professor Joern Dosch

Date:      Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    Meeting room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No. 41)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan (Academic matters)

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Speakers' Profile

Joern Dosch is a professor of International Politics and Development Cooperation and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences at the University of Rostock, Germany. His previous positions include Professor of International Relations at Monash University Malaysia, and Head of the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Leeds. In 2016 he was a Visiting Professor at the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His research focuses on Southeast Asian politics and international relations as well as Europe-Asia relations. He has spent extended periods of time in the ASEAN-region since the early 1990s. Prof Dosch’s current research projects explore the foreign policies of the individual ASEAN member states and the future of development cooperation in Southeast Asia. He also regularly works as a consultant for the European Union’s development programme with Asia and has evaluated several donor-funded projects in support of ASEAN. Dosch's recent publications include Malaysia Post-Mahathir. A Decade of Change? Marshall Cavendish 2015 (edited with James Chin) and The ASEAN Economic Community, Nomos 2016 (in German).

Abstract

For the past three decades Asia has been one of the most important empirical hunting grounds for theory-building in political science, international relations, political economy and development studies. The “developmental state”; modernisation theory; the concept of collective social orders (“Asian Values”); the idea of illiberal or defect democracies; key inputs to the discourse on nationalism and nation-building; and the notion of soft regionalism all originated against the backdrop of observed phenomena in Asia. But what has happened to these and other Asia-centric approaches in social sciences?  Are they still relevant? Or has Asia become a “normal region” that lost its unique and specific relevance as a prime empirical case for academic theorising and the construction of counter-models which challenge Eurocentric worldviews?

Research Seminar Series (06/2019)

“Civil-Military Relations in Myanmar: Guarding, Guiding and Constraining Democratization”

Speaker: Associate Professor Marco Buente

Date:      Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    Meeting room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No. 41)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan (Academic matters)

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Speakers' Profile

Marco Bünte is Associate Professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, and Co-Director of the Multidisciplinary Research Platform Global Asia in the 21st Century. He is interested in broader questions of regime change and persistence, civil-military relations, constitutionalism and human rights. He has published 2 monopgraphs, co-edited three volumes and written more than 100 articles and book chapters.

Abstract

Myanmar`s democratisation has been seen as a success story countering the global trend of democratic recession and the crisis of democracy in the Western world. The election of the NLD under the leadership of human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi and the election of the first civilian president seemed to confirm this optimism. The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in 2017 and the ongoing human rights violations in the areas of ethnic minorities paint a completely different picture. This study shows that the lack of civilian control over the military (Tatmadaw) actually has far reaching effects on the country`s young democracy. It disentangles the concept of civilian control and shows systematically how the military is constraining Myanmar`s “disciplined” democracy.

Research Seminar Series (05/2019)

“Developing the Communist Asia: Polish Scientists and the Socialist Modernity in North Vietnam (1957–1960)”

Speaker: Dr Marek W. Rutkowski

Date:      Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    Meeting room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No. 41)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan (Academic matters)

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Speakers' Profile

Dr Marek Rutkowski is Lecturer in Global Studies at Monash University Malaysia. He specialises in international history with a particular focus on the Cold War in Asia. Dr. Rutkowski received his PhD in History from the National University of Singapore in 2017. His dissertation analysed the role of international peacekeepers in Indochina in the 1950-60s in the period leading up to the Vietnam War, with the Cold War and decolonisation as a backdrop. His research is primarily empirical and archive-driven, looking at political processes in Asia from a historical perspective. His interests range from diplomacy and peacekeeping to development models and nation-building.

Currently Dr. Rutkowski focuses on turning the dissertation into a book manuscript and embarking on a second research project looking at the Soviet Bloc’s encounters with Asia in the Cold War period in the areas of diplomacy, development and knowledge transfer. Separately, he has been involved in a two-volume book project on Western military powers in Asia in collaboration with scholars from US, UK, Australia and Singapore.

Abstract

While a lot has been written about Western modernisation efforts as a means of winning the Cold War in the decolonised world, few similar research projects have been undertaken with regards to the Soviet Bloc. This talk aims to reflect on the Cold War-era communist development efforts in the Third World through a case study of scientific knowledge transfer and developmental aid from Poland to North Vietnam in the 1950s. Behind the façade of communist internationalism, the study finds a few curious undercurrents that demonstrate that the quest for modernisation within the Soviet Bloc was not free from complications found in Western development efforts - conflicting national interests, enduring stereotypes and the complicated relationship with colonialism.

Research Seminar Series (04/2019)

“Digital Transactions in Asia"

Speaker: Associate Professor Adrian Athique

Date:       Thursday, 11 April 2019

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    Meeting room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No. 41)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Associate Professor Emma Baulch (Academic matters)

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Speakers' Profile

Adrian Athique is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland. He is the author of several books on Asia, the media and the digital including The Multiplex in India: A Cultural Economy of Urban Leisure (Routledge, 2010, with Douglas Hill), Indian Media: Global Approaches (Polity, 2012) Digital Media and Society (Polity, 2013) and Transnational Audiences: Media Reception on a Global Scale (Polity, 2016). He is also editor of The Indian Media Economy (2 Vols, OUP, with Vibodh Parthasarathi and SV Srinivas) and, most recently co-edited Digital Transactions in Asia: Social, Economic and Informational Exchanges (Routledge, 2019) with Associate Professor Emma Baulch, Monash University Malaysia.

Abstract

In 2017, the number of Internet users in Asia surpassed those in the rest of the world combined (at 1.9 billion). The same is true of the mobile domain, with almost 4 billion phone subscribers in Asia, making more than half of the global total. In this talk, I consider the digital transactions through which cultures and societies are being enacted across the region.

Taken in the narrow terms of finance capital, digital transactions leads us to think of the recent interventions of the Indian government in trying to impose a cashless society through demonetization. We might also think of the economic and political transactions through which Asia’s political leaders have become enveloped in the disclosures of the Panama Papers and 1MDB affair.

It is my contention, however, that we need to think of informational exchanges and social communication as being transactions in a much broader sense, for transactions imply certain relations of participation that remediate social relationships. We can think of the practice of e-government as recasting the everyday encounter between citizens and state. When we consider the contours of popular culture and the conduct of interpersonal relationships, we can begin to discern the ways in which digital platforms are enabling, shaping and commodifying new forms of sociability. In this larger sense, the field of digitization in Asia today expresses the force of social change through a vast series of digital transactions.

Research Seminar Series (03/2019)

“Banning Plastic Wastes. Who Cares?”

Speaker:  Dr Tiew Kian Ghee

Date:       Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    Seminar Room 6-2-14 (Building 6, Level 2, Room No. 14)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Dr Nicholas Chan (Academic matters)

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Speakers' Profile

Currently, Dr. Tiew Kian Ghee is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at South China University of Technology, China. His research focuses on urban plastic waste management in Guangzhou and Shenzhen cities especially food delivery, which involves massive use of plastic packaging. In 2016, Dr. Kian Ghee received his PhD degree in environmental engineering from the National University of Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), funded by a scholarship awarded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia. In 2016-2018, Dr. Kian Ghee worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at UKM. His research focused on sustainable campuses, especially the development of a comprehensive and cost-effective system of solid waste management on campus. He contributed towards the development of a solid waste recycling management model for Malaysia based on community recycling behaviours and waste composition studies. Dr. Kian Ghee is also involved in the areas of integrated solid waste management and environmental sustainability development for more than 10 years, where his research cut across multiple disciplines, including water resource management, climate change, disaster waste management, and community recycling behaviors. His research requires him to engage with international and national stakeholders and communities. In 2011, he won the first prize of UNESCO’s E-Learning Program <Asia Sustainable Energy> Essay Competition jointly organized by UNESCO Jakarta and Sustainable Energy and Environment (SEE) Forum.  With over 30 academic articles published and 15 public talks on related topics, Dr. Kian Ghee is proven to be well-trained on a wide area of topics, including urban climate change, sustainability and world heritage protection.

Abstract

The market demand for plastics is tremendous across the world. The durability and multi-functionality of plastics are two main reasons plastics are widely used in various industries, such as packaging, electrical and electronics, household, automotive, construction, agriculture etc. Suffice it to say, plastics are everywhere. In 2018, imported recycling plastic wastes became a hot issue in Malaysian. It is increasingly clear that plastic wastes from western countries meant for recycling have diverted to Malaysia as the result of an import ban by the Chinese government. The excess of imported plastics for recycling in the country had caused pollution to the environment due to a lack of proper storage of these plastic wastes. In order to resolve this issue, the Malaysian government had tightened the import of plastic wastes in response to a series of serious environmental pollution recently uncovered in the Kuala Langat area. The banning of single-use plastic wastes could be a good start. However, on its own, the ban is grossly inadequate and therefore, it is not a long-term solution. Some researchers suggested several solutions in addressing this problem, such as, increasing tax incentives and rewards policies, implementing buy-back schemes, improving the recycling infrastructure and innovation of reusable plastic products. Unfortunately, Malaysia still lacks a comprehensive policy that regulates the plastic waste recycling industry. Therefore, this talk will share current solid waste management practices in Malaysia, the fundamental information about plastics wastes, and the outcome of a survey on Malaysian recycling behaviours. In addition, this talk will discuss whether the banning of plastic wastes is a sustainable and long-term solution.

Research Seminar Series (02/2019)

“Marriage in Motion: Stories from Penang across Multiple Generations"

Speaker:  Professor Janet Carsten

Date:       Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room 41)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan (Academic matters)

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Speakers' Profile

Janet Carsten is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.  Her published work has focussed on kinship, domestic relations, gender, historical migration, the house, adoption reunions, childhood, and memory. Her most recent completed project has been on ideas about bodily substance, and the interface between popular and medical ideas about blood in Malaysia and Britain.  She is currently PI on a new comparative project, ‘A Global Anthropology of Transforming Marriage (AGATM), funded by an ERC Advanced Grant. Janet Carsten is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Abstract

What does it mean to marry, to become or to be married, or to stay married – or not - over many years? How do women and men reflect on these different states and experiences? How are marriages located in a particular place and at a particular historical moment? How do they reflect continuity or rupture between generations, and connections and disjunctions between the personal, familial, and the wider social and political setting? This talk aims to reflect on these questions, and others, through an overview of a currently ongoing research project on changing middle class marriage in Penang.


Research Seminar Series (01/2019)

“Enjoy watching scum die”: Online observations on desires for violent retribution through the Malaysian death penalty"

Speaker:  Dr Benjamin Loh

Date:       Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room 41)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Dr Susan Leong (Academic matters)

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Speakers' Profile

Benjamin Loh is a media scholar and the current senior research fellow at the DAP parliamentary research office. He has had a varied background with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the University of Malaya, both a Media Studies and Southeast Asian Studies Master’s from Ohio University, and has received his PhD in Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. This diverse academic history allows Benjamin to explore the confluence between media and technology and how they influence society and cultures at large. Through his published articles and earlier academic work, he has explored issues such as recreating physical spaces in online video games and using media to understand class and social structures. His PhD research looks at how pirated media affects how regular people make sense of their media and how it affects their use of it. By understanding how Malaysians make sense of their use of media, Benjamin believes that will reveal better insights into contemporary society that will eventually bridge the digital divide of privilege. His current work focuses on the state of the media in New Malaysia and emphasizes media reforms.

Abstract

In October 2018, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Law, Datuk VK Liew, announced that Malaysia would be abolishing the death penalty. The reception from the public has proven to be divisive with the majority of Malaysians indicating their disapproval over this move using various justifications of the merits of the death penalty. Justifications such as deterrent to crime, serving justice to aggrieved victims and their families, or just a plain desire to see criminals suffer for committing heinous crimes were commonly used. For the latter reason, Malaysians from all walks of life appear to support and expect criminals to be heavily punished for their crimes. In a discourse analysis of reactions posted online (through social media and online forums), a pattern emerges where people delight in schadenfreude at the suffering of people who are accused of crimes, often with little to no boundaries. Comments justifying the death penalty reflected a deeper need to satisfy a desire to see retribution for crimes committed. These comments were collected from online articles and forums that discussed the death penalty abolishment and other high profile cases at the time. This presentation will highlight some of these comments made in local online spaces and attempt to understand and rationalize why online netizens have developed this bloodthirst. Extreme opinions expressed through online media is cathartic and appears to be necessary and highlights why the terminal punishment is necessary to match their internal need for retributive justice.